Bridge replacement to start

WESTFIELD – Demolition of the existing Pochassic Road Bridge and construction of a new span is slated to begin in July and be completed by the spring of 2014.
The state Department of Transportation conducted a preconstruction conference on the $2.6 million project Thursday, May 17, with the contractor, R. Bates & Sons, Inc., of Clinton and local officials.
The Pochassic Street Bridge is also known locally as the Drug Store Hill Bridge.
City Engineer Mark Cressotti said the contract will begin staging equipment and construct a temporary pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks down to Old Pochassic Road in front of Tierney Insurance at the old depot.
“The city would like that to be a permanent pedestrian bridge,” Cressotti said. “The DOT has not committed to that and is still accessing the city’s desire for that option.”
“The temporary pedestrian bridge is needed because the existing bridge will be removed to make way for the new bridge,” Cressotti said.
The Westfield Gas & Electric Department, which has gas lines attached to the existing bridge, agreed to cut and cap those lines until the new structure is complete and the lines reconnected.
Cressotti said the contractor is discussion options with Verizon and other telecommunication companies which also have lines connected to the bridge.
The Water Department has a line that currently goes beneath the railroad tracks.
“The new bridge will have a water line and the existing line under the tracks will be abandoned,” Cressotti said.
The contractor will also have to preserve the current arch section of the existing bridge, a requirement the Massachusetts Historical Commission because of its architectural significance.
Replacement of the Pochassic Street Bridge was originally part of the Great River Bridge project, which included construction of a second span, rehabilitation of the existing bridge and reconstruction of the railroad bridge to raise that structure to create clearance for trucks.
The Pochassic bridge project was pulled from the scope of the Great River project because of costs and impacts on construction schedules. The Pochassic Street bridge replacement was estimated at nearly double the contract awarded to Bates.

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